Shikha Pandey’s Trials and Tribulations throughout her career

Graduating as an engineer in 2010, being commissioned as an Air Traffic Controller in the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2012, and then debuting for the India senior women’s cricket team in 2014, Shikha Pandey is a multifaceted individual with a diverse range of accomplishments. On her 34th Birthday, we reflect on the rollercoaster ride she has been on lately.

Shikha Pandey in action. PC: Getty Images
Shikha Pandey in action. PC: Getty Images

 

After the resumption of Cricket following the Covid pandemic, India embarked on tours to England and Australia in 2021. Shikha Pandey, who had gained a dedicated fan base post her impressive performances in India’s 2020 World Cup campaign in Australia, continued to be an integral part of the team. However, despite her consistent performances, she faced a surprising omission from the national side.

During India’s tour of England in June-July 2021, Shikha Pandey displayed an economical bowling performance in the three ODIs, taking a couple of wickets in 22 overs at around 5 runs per over. In the T20Is, she claimed all three of her scalps in a single match, albeit at a slightly higher economy rate. However, her Test outing during India’s return to the longer format was not as successful.

Shikha Pandey was part of India’s touring squad for the second all-format series of the year. Although excluded from the Test XI, her omission from the ODIs was disappointing considering her impressive performances in England. However, in the T20Is, Shikha showcased her skills with decent bowling spells and a memorable wicket referred to as the ‘Ball of the Century’.

Shikha Pandey was shockingly omitted from India’s touring contingent for the 2022 New Zealand World Cup. This decision proved detrimental as India paid the price with an early exit from the tournament. Shikha was once again overlooked when India toured the United Kingdom for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, indicating that lessons were not learned. Did India find themselves short of a bowling all-rounder? Yes, again!

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Shikha, heartbroken but resilient, continued to play domestic cricket for Goa and displayed impressive performances. She went a step further by participating in the Queensland Premier Cricket League in Brisbane, where she excelled with figures of 6-1-7-2 and a remarkable 109-ball-112 batting at number 5. Lesser known to many, on her Brisbane trip, she got in touch with Australian great, Belinda Clark.

Fortunes turned for Shikha as her 15-month exile from international cricket finally came to an end as she made a comeback to the Indian team for a Tri-Series and the subsequent T20 World Cup. Sikha on return produced figures of 0/18 (4) but didn’t have a good 2nd outing. Initially benched in the World Cup, she later returned to the XI and contributed figures of 1/20 (4) against England, 0/14 (2) against Ireland, and 2/32 (4) against Australia.

Shikha Pandey proved to be a valuable addition to the Delhi Capitals team in the inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League, acquired for a steal at 60 Lakhs. She took 10 wickets in 9 innings, the most by a capped Indian player, and scored 39 runs in 3 batting innings, including a 27* in the Final. Despite her impressive outings, Shikha faced yet another snub during the annual retentions for the 2022-23 season. Anti-climax, innit? Be assured, not for long!

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